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The Theory of Relational Cohesion: Review of a Research Program

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In this paper we analyze and review the theory of relational cohesion and attendant program of research. Since the early 1990s, the theory has evolved to answer a number of basic questions regarding cohesion and commitment in social exchange relations. Drawing from the sociology of emotion and modem theories of social identity, the theory asserts that joint activity in the form of frequent exchange unleashes positive emotions and perceptions of relational cohesion. In turn, relational cohesion is predicted to be the primary cause of commitment behavior in a range of situations. Here we outline the theory of relational cohesion, tracing its development through the present day, and summarize the corpus of empirical evidence for the theory’s claims. We conclude by looking ahead to future projects and discussing some of the more general issues informed by our work.

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2002-01-01

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theory of relational cohesion; social exchange relations; emotion; social identity; commitment behavior

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Required Publisher Statement: © Emerald. Final version published as: Thye, S. R., Yoon, J., & Lawler, E. J. (2002). The theory of relational cohesion: Review of a research program [Electronic version]. In S. R. Thye & E. J. Lawler (Series Eds.), Advances in group processes: Vol. 19 (pp. 217-244). Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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